PT 139 | Fossilization Of Thought


We are fresh from election day, and if there is anything the polls are telling us for certain, it is that our country is as polarized as ever. Picking up from last episode’s discussion on the fossilization of thought, Bill Stierle and Tom now looks at the current state of the elections, how divided the people are, and where truth gets seeped with doubt and skepticism. They also talk about the role of the media and the need for empathy and compassion, especially with the future leader of this country, if we were to move forward as a nation. 

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The Fossilization Of Thought, Part 2: The State Of The Elections

This is our first episode since Election Day. I want to acknowledge so our readers are clear that we don’t yet know who the next president will be because there is no apparent winner yet. We talked about the fossilization of thought last time, and that’s a great way to begin our discussion. Continuing that, especially since one thing we know is in fact certain even though there is uncertainty at this time about who the next president will be. One thing is certain our country is as polarized as ever. I think that is the evidenced by the fact that there are many states that are too close to call like Pennsylvania, Georgia, North Carolina, Arizona, and Nevada. Many states still too close to call. It bears out what we were talking about last time with the fossilization of thought. Would you agree?

Yeah. The fossilization of thought, we have to have a great deal of empathy and compassion for everybody’s way that they’re thinking about themselves in the world. You and I live around people in cities. We have a strong urban value mindset of you got to get along and you got to have cooperation and collaboration with others and you don’t need the ability to exercise as much freedom or independence or even stay in isolation is different than a rural value, which is, “I’m out here in the country, I’m working this farm. I’m doing this independent life out here. I’m not interacting other than my neighbors. I took over my family’s house.” There’s a lot of rural values that are opposite of urban values and you can see that on the map.

It’s like, “Look at Pennsylvania, here’s Pittsburgh and here’s Philadelphia and here are all these other cities. We could go down the list and those are all blue.” There are a lot of people in those areas. The rest of the state is red. Those values of independence, identity, individuality. Top-down thinking does not take a lot of collaboration to execute. You do not have to work in close proximity on a daily basis with your neighbor who’s playing music louder than you would like. You don’t have to build up resilience or a tolerance to people that are meeting their needs at the expense of others as that takes place at a city. We need empathy and compassion that this person is watching this value and believing in this president and it’s as 50%, 49%, 51% either way in various different states. The fossilization of thought is that my way of living is better. My way of thinking is better. This person who I’m voting for president is more in alignment with my way of thinking.

What’s remarkable is at least so far and I know not all the ballots are completed being counted in these swing states, these undecided states. The margin of the popular vote last I saw, which will still potentially shift a little as the remaining votes come in with the nationwide. The popular vote was standing at about 3.5 million-vote difference last that I saw, which is exactly what it was in 2016 in favor of at that time, Hillary Clinton. Now, it was in favor of Joe Biden. He may improve upon that a little bit, maybe get over four million or so. It shows you we’ve not changed that much in how divided we are as a nation in the popular vote either. Clearly in 2016, the election was called on Election Day for President Donald Trump by maybe 11:00 PM or 12:00 PM Pacific time right on the West Coast. This time here we are, a couple of days after the election, it’s still not called and we’re waiting to count every vote, which is what we should do.

The votes are going to be counted. Over the next couple of days, we’re going to notice that those numbers are going to move a little bit different. The margin is different, now, Joe Biden is about 3.7 million votes more. Hillary Clinton was about 2.5 million.

Top-down thinking does not take a lot of collaboration to execute. Click To Tweet

I thought it was closer, over three million, it wasn’t?

No. They kept saying three million.

That was the message Donald Trump kept saying that there were at least three million fraudulent votes. Is that why the number is sticking in my head?

That’s why because he imprinted it in your brain. As we come back around on this thing about how does a thought get fossilized and there’s a repetition, that factor that takes place where the message needs to be simple and it needs to be congruent with a value that we hold. They’re going to take away your dot as a marketing message that Donald Trump used to mobilize people to come out to vote. Somebody even asked me, “Who do you think is going to win?” I go, “It depends on how many people are Donald Trump going to activate their limbic brain for them to feel fearful that someone is going to come in and upset their lifestyle.”

You and I both know no one’s coming to upset their lifestyle, but they don’t. When you scare people enough that somebody is going to come in, upset your lifestyle, they will get off the couch and they’ll come out to vote. President Donald Trump, he is an excellent brander and marketer. He can sell things through anticipation and uncertainty. He lacks the ability to deliver what he says fully. He will deliver what he says partially, but he will not deliver what he says fully.

PT 139 | Fossilization Of Thought

Fossilization Of Thought: We have to have a great deal of empathy and compassion for everybody’s way that they’re thinking about themselves in the world.


Regrettably, because our business, capitalist, part of our society bites into anticipation of certainty. It can be sold in different ways. We could be easily messaged to any message that the scrupulous versus unscrupulous communicator will put in front of us. I know I’ve said a bunch of fifty-cent words here and I’ve strung it together a little bit into complex thought, but we can be sold because our brains have been mashed into selling. Our brains have been painted with brand imagery. All that’s left are the winners. Coca-Cola, Pepsi are the color winners. Can you think of another Cola brand at this moment?

I can, but there are smaller regional ones like RC Cola. I’m originally from New England, in the Northeast United States there was one called Polar Cola. I would drive through on the highway as we called it in the East, not freeway, on the highway through Worcester, Massachusetts. There was a big Polar bottling factory.

You’reIllustrating again, Polar is branded on the side of your brain. All I did was mention it. You gave me the whole story.

It is burned in my brain as a child, to tell you the power of marketing and branding. There was a polar bear, big on top of the building and imagery of a bunch of these Polar bottles, huge. Here’s also another marketing branding, you would drive through the city, and not only was Polar factory there notably but so was the Holy Cross football stadium, which is in that city. Which is a Catholic college, but a notable one. I remember Doug Flutie was the big star in the day as I was a kid. Those things are across the highway from each other in Massachusetts there.

I think it’s Worcester, if I’m wrong, it’s Springfield, but I’m sure it’s Worcester. I digress, but it is a strong branding message, no question Coke and Pepsi are almost untouchable in terms of brand impressions that have been made in the minds of the American public. Coca-Cola, I would argue more of a worldwide brand. When I leave the country and I’m in a place like Hong Kong or China, I can tell you Coca-Cola in China is a big brand as is McDonald’s and KFC.

The fossilization of thought is thinking that one’s way of living is better. Click To Tweet

That’s a great example because our topic is truth and the fossilization of thought, we’re talking about it in politics, but also you can see how it’s translating into a brand imprint. If we fossilize a thought, Democrats get to be whatever the other side wants to paint them to be. If you’re with them, that means you’re with all of them. We’re going to pick out the worst Democrats that we would ever like to put and we’re going to put them on your side. We’re going to take a look at our side, the Republicans, and go like, “Integrity is not that big because we’re living with Lindsey Graham who doesn’t meet the need for integrity because he promised something, he changed his mind because he could.”

Human beings get to change their mind and they don’t meet the need for integrity and trust. There is a casualty regarding moral behavior. There’s an acceptance of immoral behavior whether it’s Lindsey Graham or Anthony Weiner or some of these characters on both sides of the equation. There are some problems, there are some challenges that are not in alignment with integrity and what we would call moral things. The fossilization of thought means I get to justify my side as being more moral than your side.

It’s interesting because we’re seeing some of this fossilization of thought playing out here among the uncertainty of the vote count in a couple of states. We’re not quite 72 hours after the Election Day ended, but we’re 72 hours from Election Day in the middle of it. We did not see as much display of violence potentially or voter intimidation at the polls as maybe some of us were led to believe, might happen with whether it’s on the right-wing side of things. Militia groups showing up to the polls. We hadn’t heard anything about the Proud Boys on Election Day.

It was relatively calm and orderly on Election Day. What we saw in the last 24 hours interestingly is a group of people outside the Maricopa County in the election center where votes are being counted in Arizona, we saw a group of people outside cheering, “Count every vote.” These are people with a lot of Donald Trump flags and they are wanting transparency into the process of counting the votes. They have this, I believe what appears to me to be a fossilization of thought that somehow there was no transparency in the counting of the votes already and that they are saying they want every vote to be counted. What was at least apparent to me as an observer in the media was that every vote was being counted. There is a transparent process and they’re doing their job and it’s just taking time.

Here’s the way the brain approaches this and this is where it gets unsettling. All you need is one message that is possibly true, which will cascade the need for truth and the need for trust to go under the bus. Here’s what the message was. Someone, nobody that’s being named, observed a pile of 50 ballots that came in after the deadline being put in a pile to be counted. That was a message I heard half a dozen times on election night. If I am looking at that message from an observer place, first off, I don’t know if it’s true or not. Why do I not know if it’s true or not? I’m extending trust to the poll workers and the commissioners that are in charge of whatever that place that’s counting. I am trusting them. I’m extending trust to those people, but here’s when it goes south.

PT 139 | Fossilization Of Thought

Fossilization Of Thought: The fossilization of thought means a person gets to justify their side as being more moral than your side.


If I don’t extend trust to those people, I don’t know those people. What happens is I get to spit any doubt and skepticism. If I don’t have any emotional intelligence or emotional resiliency, I can then globalize it and say, “If they did it for those 50 ballots, they might’ve had a whole other group that they did there. All I did was put another 1,000 on top. They adjust the numbers to give the other side 20,000 as I’m doing this narrative.” The feeling of doubt and skepticism is increasing and the need for truth and trust are being obscured. That’s what’s happening. A belief, a bias or a fallacy will internally cause our emotional body to not look at logic or not check out the fact. Most certainly not extend trust to a person that over 4, 6, 8, 12 years we’ve been told not to trust. We’ve been amplifying you can’t trust these people. These people are going to do these untrustworthy things. It’s like, “Where is the evidence?” “You won’t believe what Barack Obama got caught doing.”

You’re talking about the facts there, Bill, aren’t you? Where’s the evidence.

I am talking about a thing called facts and some people would tell it, “They’ve kept it covered up.” Who’s they? Are you not trusting who? You’re not trusting the FBI? “I can’t trust the FBI.” That’s their job.

You know how we always say the facts don’t matter. We’ve said this many times when it comes to language and communication and messages that stick, but when it comes to Election Day and counting every vote, is there a point at which the facts do see the light of day and matter here with the vote count? You’re talking about people that want to cast doubt and skepticism as to whether the process is being properly done, but at some point at the end of the day, the president is going to be identified and it’s going to be who has the votes in and of states to get past 270 electoral votes?

I appreciate your straightforwardness around the need for truth and trust towards poll workers. I feel a certain amount of alliance and competence that when I’m watching one poll worker or one Secretary of State before elections. I’m extending a certain amount of trust. Other people don’t extend the amount of trust that I do. For example, if I’m thinking about the Secretary of Elections for Michigan, she came out and she says, “You cannot have this both ways. We went to our legislator in Michigan and asked them to please change the rule to have us count these votes earlier. They did not allow us to count it earlier. Now they’re expecting us to turn in a number sooner so that they have the opportunity to count cast doubt?”

The feeling of doubt and skepticism is increasing, and the need for truth and trust are being obscured. Click To Tweet

If I was coaching her, I would say, “The need for truth and trust has been met in this place. If there are individuals that would like to see if truth and trust that are being met with the voters and the voter rolls, I’d be happy to go over it because it is my job.” Look at how her integrity would say, “I’d be happy to go over this. I’m happy to correct any irregulars.” They will say then, “You’re challenging us. We don’t believe you even more because you’re having that level of confidence and arrogance.” The brain does not want to believe somebody it doesn’t want to believe. It’s like, “I don’t believe you.” Whatever comes out of her mouth, unless there’s a line of empathy that comes out of her mouth, they’ll believe that, but they won’t believe the truth.

That is unsettling. A couple of things are coming to mind. First is I’ve listened to a lot of correspondents, journalists or consultants on television and a lot of Republican, ones who are saying that Florida, which twenty years ago was the example of how not to conduct an election when we had the hanging chads and a lot of uncertainty and this agonizing recounting. How do we verify this as a valid vote or not over more than a month? Florida has improved their systems and processes and did allow tabulating of the mail-in vote to occur ahead of time. By sometime late into the evening, maybe it was 10:00 PM or 11:00 PM East Coast time.

They had all their vote counted enough that they could make a call, but you have these other states that would not allow that mail-in vote to be counted ahead of time. It creates more uncertainty, doubt, skepticism, anxiety among the people that they were saying it would be great if every state changed their process to allow the mail-in vote to be counted prior to. Look how well it’s worked here in Florida. That’s an interesting thing that we’ve seen play out here. I’m interested to get your thoughts on some of the messaging we’re hearing out of Donald Trump and out of Joe Biden here in this post-election and pre outcome. I wonder how this squares with the fossilization of thought where Donald Trump is saying in a state like Pennsylvania, “Stop the count.” He’s trying to brand and make the messaging being counting votes after Election Day is bad in Pennsylvania, where, when it comes to Arizona and Nevada, keep counting. Isn’t this transparent he’s behind? That doesn’t mean he’s going to lose, but he’s behind in Arizona and Nevada, and he wants votes to keep being counted. In Pennsylvania, where he’s ahead, he wants the voting counting to stop. How is that impacting the fossilization of thought?

I feel disheartened about this part of the experience because not only is Joe Biden missing an opportunity, but the media is also missing an opportunity for reunification. The empathy that is needed around trust and truth regarding the vote might sound like this from Joe Biden. “The president is feeling doubtful and skeptical about truth and trust regarding the votes. I am interested in truth and trust being met in the votes.” That’s why it’s important for Nevada and Arizona to continue to count the vote because I want to make sure that President Donald Trump gets a fair shot at those states.

I want to make sure that every voter in Nevada and Arizona is counted accurately for the president. I am not interested in stopping any vote in Arizona or Nevada like I don’t want any vote stopped in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan or in Wisconsin. We are going to do whatever it takes and I will do whatever it takes as a citizen and as a candidate that is running for the Office of the President to make sure that every vote counts because I’m interested in meeting the need for truth and trust with the voter.

PT 139 | Fossilization Of Thought

Fossilization Of Thought: If we’re going to be better communicators, we need to be empathetic and compassionate to both the winners and the supposed losers.


I have seen what Joe Biden has been saying is trying to give empathy and compassion to the American people, to the voters talking about every vote needs to be counted. We as American citizens need to know this and we’re going to move together as a nation after this. He has been throwing empathy and compassion to the voter. What he’s not been doing is throwing any empathy or compassion Donald Trump’s direction.

If he would do that, the people on Donald Trump’s side of the fence that he has to start unifying will start going, “Wait a minute. The guy’s talking about my vote. He’s interested in finding out.” He could even spin it a little bit further. “I want to know how divided we are as a nation. I want to know every vote because if I am to be the president, I want to know every single vote that voted against me. If I’m doing that it’s going to make me a better leader to know when I come into a state that I make sure that I support the values of somebody that didn’t vote for me because that’s what the job is supposed to do.”

All of a sudden, he completely separated himself from the president’s narrative, which is somebody’s cheating on me, their side. He’s got to do some messaging. Joe Biden’s got to do some messaging that is unifying. He is doing part of the way. He’s somewhere between a 1/3 to 2/3 of the way there towards that narrative. I would like to see some narrative that would move him a little bit closer to inclusion, to valuing and honoring the voter rather than say, “We win,” which he isn’t doing. Donald Trump would do it, “We win. Winner takes a lot.” We want to not focus on what the president is doing as much. We want to focus on empathizing with his actions and putting them in perspective.

That’s going to loosen up the fossilization because this is all about loosening up the fossilization of the thought. It’s like, “I have some beliefs about things and there’s a bunch of people that voted for me. I want those things. I’m going to listen to those other things that you would like, but I don’t want those other things because there are many people that don’t want those other things that you would like to see.” Sad and disheartening to have that experience. There’s a lot of room to grow and to talk from this position but it’ll be interesting to see on our next episode what either President Donald Trump is going to be doing or President Joe Biden is going to be doing next. If we’re going to be better communicators, we need to be empathetic and compassionate to both the winners and the supposed losers.

We have to bring the country together as much as possible. That’s that healing and restoration that has to start taking place as soon as possible. I worry a little bit about some of the languaging and messaging coming out of The White House in the short-term that is not supportive of that regardless of whether The White House wins a second term or not.

The brain does not want to believe somebody that they don't believe. Click To Tweet

The votes will be in. We get to move forward as a nation and continue the experience of having the president as our president or have a new experience with Joe Biden being in charge of this position and to move forward in a way that is healthier or more effective from a language standpoint. Not as divisive as the way it’s been in the past. It doesn’t mean that the Democrats don’t slip out divisive messages, they do. We will continue to call them on it.

I look forward to that. We need to.

If somebody opens their mouth and from the Democratic side with the divisive messaging, you and I are going to be down their throat like, “That wasn’t the best thing for them to say,” that’s what they were going for. Not too good. Not the strongest message. More to come, Tom. Thanks a million.

Thank you, appreciate it.

Thanks. Bye.

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